Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway

5th November 2014

The best parts of Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway:

‘The people one would see if one saw whom one wished to see. You know all of those people? You must know them.’
‘Some of them,’ I said. ‘Some in Paris. Some in Berlin.’
I did not wish to destroy anything this man had, and so I did not go into those brilliant people in detail.
‘They’re marvellous,’ I said, lying.

At present we have two good writers who cannot write because they have lost confidence through reading critics. If they wrote, sometimes it would be good and sometimes not so good and sometimes it would be quite bad, but the good would get out. But they have read the critics and they must write masterpieces. The masterpieces the critics said they wrote. They weren’t masterpieces, of course. They were just quite good books. So now they cannot write at all. The critics have made them impotent.

‘And what do you want?’
‘To write as well as I can and learn as I go along. At the same time I have my life which I enjoy and which is a damned good life.’

‘Do you think your writing is worth doing — as an end in itself?’
‘Oh, yes.’
‘You are sure?’
‘Very sure.’
‘That must be very pleasant.’
‘It is,’ I said. ‘It is the one altogether pleasant thing about it.’

He moved toward his tent carrying himself with comic stiffness, walking in the dark as carefully as though he were an opened bottle.

They had that attitude that makes brothers, that unexpressed but instant and complete acceptance that you must be Masai wherever it is you come from… [It is] the thing that used to be the most clear distinction of nobility where there was nobility. It is an ignorant attitude and the people who have it do not survive, but very few pleasanter things ever happen to you than the encountering of it.

The earth gets tired of being exploited. A country wears out quickly unless man puts back in all its residue and that of all his beasts. When he quits using beasts and uses machines, the earth defeats him quickly. The machine can’t reproduce, nor does it fertilize the soil, and it eats what he cannot raise.

Citizens, I feel very well.

VOCABULARY

Tyroler Hat – The Tyrolean hat (also Bavarian hat or Alpine hat) is a type of headwear that originally came from the Tyrol in the Alps. A typical Tyrolean hat originally had a crown tapering to a point and was made of green felt with a brim roughly the width of a hand.
white hunter – professional big game hunters of European or North American backgrounds who plied their trade in Africa, especially during the first half of the 20th century
dynamo – an electrical generator that produces direct current with the use of a commutator
klaxon – a vehicle horn
shamba – A plantation or area of cultivated ground; a plot of land, a small subsistence farm for growing crops and fruit-bearing trees, often including the dwelling of the farmer
sisal – a species of Agave native to southern Mexico but widely cultivated and naturalized in many other countries. It yields a stiff fibre used in making various products.
kongoni – The hartebeest, an African species of grassland antelope
musette – a small leather or canvas bag with shoulder strap, used during hiking, marching, etc.